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Filosofie en de waan van de dag

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Inleidingen in de filosofie

Voorkant Williamson 'The philosophy of philosophy' Timothy WILLIAMSON
The philosophy of philosophy - A philosophical chronicle
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007;
ISBN-13: 978 14 0513 3968

(ix) Preface

"This book grew out of a sense that contemporary philosophy lacks a self-image that does it justice."() Although an adequate self-image is not a precondition of all virtue, it helps."(ix)

(1) Introduction

De traditionele rationalistische aanpak van filosofie is a priori en de beweringen van filosofen zijn daarom moeilijk te toetsen met waarnemingen. Daartegenover staat het empirisme, tegenwoordig ook wel naturalisme genoemd. Met de 'linguistic' en de 'conceptual turn' kwamen er weer andere elementen in.

"Crude rationalists, crude empiricists, and linguistic or conceptual philosophers (those who take the linguistic or conceptual turn) share a common assumption: that the a priori methodology of philosophy is profoundly unlike the a posteriori methodology of the natural sciences; it is no mere difference between distinct applications of the same underlying methodology. One apparently distinctive feature of current methodology in the broad tradition known as “analytic philosophy” is the appeal to intuition. Crude rationalists postulate a special knowledge-generating faculty of rational intuition. Crude empiricists regard “intuition” as an obscurantist term for folk prejudice, a psychological or social phenomenon that cannot legitimately constrain truth-directed inquiry. Linguistic or conceptual philosophers treat intuitions more sympathetically, as the deliverances of linguistic or conceptual competence. Of course, the appeal to intuitions also plays a crucial role in the overt methodology of other disciplines too, such as linguistics.

"One main theme of this book is that the common assumption of philosophical exceptionalism is false. Even the distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori turns out to obscure underlying similarities. Although there are real methodological differences between philosophy and the other sciences, as actually practiced, they are less deep than is often supposed. In particular, so-called intuitions are simply judgments (or dispositions to judgment); neither their content nor the cognitive basis on which they are made need be distinctively philosophical. In general, the methodology of much past and present philosophy consists in just the unusually systematic and unrelenting application of ways of thinking required over a vast range of non-philosophical inquiry. The philosophical applications inherit a moderate degree of reliability from the more general cognitive patterns they instantiate. Although we cannot prove, from a startingpoint a sufficiently radical skeptic would accept, that those ways of thinking are truth-conducive, the same holds of all ways of thinking, including the methods of natural science. That is the skeptic’s problem, not ours. By more discriminating standards, the methodology of philosophy is not in principle problematic."(2/3)

"Another main theme of this book is that the differences in subject matter between philosophy and the other sciences are also less deep than is often supposed."(3)

"The distinction between the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Linguistics or the Department of Biology is clearer than the distinction between philosophy and linguistics or biology; the philosophy of language overlaps the semantics of natural languages and the philosophy of biology overlaps evolutionary theory."(4)

"The rethinking of philosophical methodology in this book involves understanding, at an appropriate level of abstraction, how philosophy is actually done. Philosophers of science know the dangers of moralizing from fi rst principles on how a discipline should ideally be pursued without respecting how it currently is pursued; the same lesson applies to the philosophy of philosophy."(6)

(10) 1. The Linguistic Turn and the Conceptual Turn

"Ayer was the predecessor of Sir Michael Dummett in the Wykeham Chair. Dummett gave a much-cited articulation of the linguistic turn, attributing it to Frege: Only with Frege was the proper object of philosophy finally established: namely, first, that the goal of philosophy is the analysis of the structure of thought; secondly, that the study of thought is to be sharply distinguished from the study of the psychological process of thinking; and, finally, that the only proper method for analysing thought consists in the analysis of language.... [T]he acceptance of these three tenets is common to the entire analytical school. (Dummett 1978: 458)(11/12)

Op basis van die criteria zien allerlei filosofen zich niet als analytische filosofen.

"Even philosophers strongly influenced by Dummett, such as Gareth Evans, Christopher Peacocke, and John Campbell, no longer give language the central role he describes."(13)

Wanneer het laatste criterium van Dummett niet gedeeld wordt (omdat men vindt dat taal niet aan denken voorafgaat en denken los van taal geanalyseerd kan worden) spreekt men wel van 'conceptual turn'.

"The conceptual turn constitutes a much broader movement than the linguistic turn. It is neutral over the relative priority of language and thought. We think and talk about things – truly or falsely depending on whether they are or are not as we think or say they are. The aboutness of thought and talk is their intentionality; the conceptual turn puts intentionality at the centre of philosophy. This terminology indicates how little the conceptual turn is confi ned to what would ordinarily be called “analytic philosophy.” The phenomenological tradition may constitute another form of the conceptual turn. In the hermeneutic study of interpretation and various shades of postmodernist discourse about discourse the conceptual turn takes a more specifically linguistic form."(14)

Kritiek op McDowell's idee over 'concepts'.

"Most thoughts are not about thoughts. To make philosophy the study of thought is to insist that philosophers’ thoughts should be about thoughts. It is not obvious why philosophers should accept that restriction."(18)

"Despite early hopes or fears, philosophy of mind has not come to play the organizing role in philosophy that philosophy of language once did. No single branch of philosophy does: philosophy is no more immune than other disciplines to increasing specialization. Nor is any one philosophical method currently treated as a panacea for philosophical ills, with consequent privileges for its home branch. Once we consider other branches of philosophy, we notice much more philosophizing whose primary subject matter is not conceptual. Biology and physics are not studies of thought. In their most theoretical reaches, they merge into the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of physics. Why then should philosophers of biology and philosophers of physics study only thought? Although they sometimes study what biologists’ and physicists’ concepts are or should be, sometimes they study what those concepts are concepts of, in an abstract and general manner. If the conceptual turn is incompatible with regarding such activities as legitimately philosophical, why take the conceptual turn?(18)

"The usual stories about the history of twentieth-century philosophy fail to fit much of the liveliest, exactest, and most creative achievements of the final third of that century: the revival of metaphysical theorizing, realist in spirit, often speculative, sometimes commonsensical, associated with Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Kit Fine, Peter van Inwagen, David Armstrong and many others: work that has, to cite just one example, made it anachronistic to dismiss essentialism as anachronistic. On the traditional grand narrative schemes in the history of philosophy, this activity must be a throwback to pre-Kantian metaphysics: it ought not to be happening – but it is. Many of those who practice it happily acknowledge its continuity with traditional metaphysics; appeals to the authority of Kant, or Wittgenstein, or history, ring hollow, for they are unbacked by any argument that has withstood the test of recent time."(19)

"Although philosophers have more reason than physicists to consider matters of language or thought, philosophy is in no deep sense a linguistic or conceptual inquiry, any more than physics is. But it does not follow that experiment is an appropriate primary method for philosophy. Similar arguments suggest that mathematics is in no deep sense a linguistic or conceptual inquiry, yet experiment is not an appropriate primary method for mathematics. The second half of the book develops an alternative conception of philosophy, on which a largely armchair methodology remains defensible, as it does for mathematics.

"From this perspective and that of many contemporary philosophers, the conceptual turn and a fortiori the linguistic turn look like wrong turnings. It is pointless to deny that such philosophers are “analytic,” for that term is customarily applied to a broad, loose tradition held together by an intricate network of causal ties of influence and communication, not by shared essential properties of doctrine or method: what do Frege, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Ayer, Quine, Austin, Strawson, Davidson, Rawls, Williams, Anscombe, Geach, Armstrong, Smart, Fodor, Dummett, Wiggins, Marcus, Hintikka, Kaplan, Lewis, Kripke, Fine, van Inwagen and Stalnaker all have in common to distinguish them from all the non-analytic philosophers? Many who regard the linguistic and conceptual turns as serious mistakes have ties of influence and communication that put them squarely within that tradition. “Analytic philosophy” is a phrase in a living language; the attempt to stipulate a sense for it that excludes many of the philosophers just listed will achieve nothing but brief terminological confusion."(21)

(23) 2. Taking Philosophical Questions at Face Value

"How often are philosophical questions implicitly about thought or language when they are not explicitly so? As a case study, I will take a question closely related to the problem of vagueness, because it looks like a paradigm of a philosophical question that is implicitly but not explicitly about thought and language. For vagueness is generally conceived as a feature of our thought and talk about the world, not of the world itself."(23)

Volgt een uitgebreide analyse rondom de zin "Was Mars always either dry or not dry?"

[Nou, daar kan ik toch echt niet warm voor lopen. Een zinloze vraag op basis van een reductie van een empirische naar een half logische vraag.]

"Serious philosophy is always likely to bore those with short attention-spans."(45)

[Yeah, right. Je zou ook kunnen zeggen dat van serieuze filosofie geen sprake is wanneer filosofen dit soort zinnen gebruiken om pagina's vol te schrijven.]

"Thus questions about the structure of thought and language become central to the debate, even when it is not primarily a debate about thought or language."(46)

"To deny that all philosophical questions are about thought or language is not to deny the obvious, that many are. () Some contemporary metaphysicians appear to believe that they can safely ignore formal semantics and the philosophy of language because their interest is in a largely extra-mental reality. They resemble an astronomer who thinks he can safely ignore the physics of telescopes because his interest is in the extra-terrestrial universe. In delicate matters, his attitude makes him all the more likely to project features of his telescope confusedly onto the stars beyond. Similarly, the metaphysicians who most disdain language are the most likely to be its victims."()

"Analytic philosophy at its best uses logical rigor and semantic sophistication to achieve a sharpness of philosophical vision unobtainable by other means. To sacrifi ce those gains would be to choose blurred vision. Fortunately, one can do more with good vision than look at eyes."(47)

(48) 3. Metaphysical Conceptions of Analyticity

"Many philosophers consciously seek conceptual connections, conceptual necessities, conceptual truths, conceptual analyses. In effect, they present themselves as seeking far more general and less obvious analogues of “Vixens are female foxes.” The suggestion is that an armchair methodology is appropriate to their quest because it concerns truths in some sense less substantial, less world-involving than those of other disciplines: in Humean terms, relations of ideas rather than matters of fact."(48)

"Does the conception of philosophical truths as analytic or conceptual vindicate a form of the linguistic or conceptual turn without misrepresenting the subject matter of philosophy as itself linguistic or conceptual? The case study in the previous chapter gave no support to such a conjecture. Nevertheless, let us examine the matter more systematically. Many philosophically relevant truths are clearly not conceptual truths in any useful sense. For instance, in arguing against subjective idealism, a defender of common sense metaphysics says that there was a solar system millions of years before there was sentient life. Similarly, a defender of common sense epistemology says that he knows that he has hands; that he knows that he has hands is no conceptual truth, for it is consistent with all conceptual truths that he lost them in a nasty accident. Some philosophers of time argue that not only the present exists by appeal to Special Relativity. Philosophers of mind and language dispute whether there is a language of thought; whatever the answer, it is no conceptual truth. Naturalists and anti-naturalists dispute whether there is only what there is in space and time; again, the answer is unlikely to be a conceptual truth. Moral and political philosophers and philosophers of art appeal to empirically discovered human cognitive limitations, and so on. Such philosophical arguments cannot be dismissed on general methodological grounds. One must engage with them on their merits, in the normal way of philosophy."(49/50)

Dit hoofdstuk gaat verder over een analyse van het idee "metafysische analyciteit".

"The overall upshot is that philosophical truths are analytic at most in senses too weak to be of much explanatory value or to justify conceiving contemporary philosophy in terms of a linguistic or conceptual turn."(54)

[Volgt de analyse. En weer kan ik daar weinig mee.]

"The metaphysics and semantics of analytic truths are no substitute for their epistemology. If their epistemology is as distinctive as is often supposed, that is not the outcome of a corresponding distinctiveness in their metaphysics or semantics. It can only be captured by confronting their epistemology directly. We therefore turn to epistemological accounts of analyticity."(72)

(73) 4. Epistemological Conceptions of Analyticity

[Ook zo'n volkomen oninteressante analyse. Wat heeft het voor zin om na te denken over het zelfbeeld en de methoden van de filosofie in het algemeen, wanneer je met je eigen schrijfwerk laat zien dat de analytische methode blijkbaar de enige is? Het beeld van filosofie dat je door dit soort pagina's krijgt ... Toulmin 2001, p10 heeft gelijk, vind ik.]

"(134) 5. Knowledge of Metaphysical Modality

"Thus the epistemology of metaphysical modality is one of mind-independent truths."(134)

"The apparent cognitive isolation of metaphysically modal thought makes such suspicions hard to allay. Presenting it as sui generis suggests that it can be surgically removed from our conceptual scheme without collateral damage. If it can, what good does it do us? In general, the postulation by philosophers of a special cognitive capacity exclusive to philosophical or quasi-philosophical thinking looks like a scam."(136)

"We should expect the cognitive capacities used in philosophy to be cases of general cognitive capacities used in ordinary life, perhaps trained, developed, and systematically applied in various special ways, just as the cognitive capacities that we use in mathematics and natural science are rooted in more primitive cognitive capacities to perceive, imagine, correlate, reason, discuss . . . In particular, a plausible non-skeptical epistemology of metaphysical modality should subsume our capacity to discriminate metaphysical possibilities from metaphysical impossibilities under more general cognitive capacities used in ordinary life. I will argue that the ordinary cognitive capacity to handle counterfactual conditionals carries with it the cognitive capacity to handle metaphysical modality."(136)

[Let wel: dit zijn de mensen die bezwaren hebben tegen het taalgebruik van de 'continentale filosofie' ... Je vraagt je af. En over die kwesties worden blijkbaar ook nog discussies gevoerd. Steeds weer die zinnen die geanalyseerd worden, die logische patronen die opgevoerd worden, heel vaak zinnen die geen gewoon mens zou denken of zeggen. Het is ook opvallend dat er geen heldere of bruikbare conclusies staan op het eind van een hoofdstuk. ]

(179) 6. Thought Experiments

"Of course, philosophy-hating philosophers (a common breed) claim that philosophical thought experiments are profoundly unlike those in natural science, in ways which make the former bad and the latter good, but we should be suspicious of such claims of philosophical exceptionalism. We have already seen the imagination play a mundane but vital role in the evaluation of counterfactual conditionals, from the most ordinary empirical ones to those equivalent to statements about metaphysical modality. We shall see it play a corresponding role in thought experiments. The canonical example in the literature on philosophical thought experiments is Edmund Gettier’s use of them to refute the traditional analysis of knowledge as justifi ed true belief (Gettier 1963)."(179)

"This chapter analyzes the logical structure of Gettier-style thought experiments. The discussion can be generalized to many imaginary counterexamples that have been deployed against philosophical analyses and theories in ways more or less similar to Gettier’s. Far more extensive investigation would be needed to warrant the claim that all philosophical thought experiments work in that way, but one must start somewhere. The main overall aim is to subsume the epistemology of thought experiments under the epistemology of counterfactual conditionals and metaphysical modality developed in the previous chapter, and thereby to reveal it as an application of quite ordinary ways of thinking, not as something peculiarly philosophical."(180)

(208) 7. Evidence in Philosophy

"In most intellectual disciplines, assertions are supposed to be backed by evidence. Mathematicians have proofs, biochemists have experiments, historians have documents. You cannot just say whatever you happen to believe. Is philosophy an exception? That hardly fits the emphasis many philosophers place on arguing for one’s claims. When they cannot provide a deductive argument, they still offer supporting considerations. Often they cite phenomena which, they suggest, their theory best explains: they provide abductive arguments. Indeed, in the last three sentences I gave evidence that philosophers give evidence; so philosophers do sometimes give evidence. Of course, philosophers who give evidence that evidence is relevant in philosophy can be accused of begging the question. But let us proceed on the working hypothesis that evidence plays a role in philosophy not radically different from its role in all other intellectual disciplines. Without such a role, what would entitle philosophy to be regarded as a discipline at all?(208)

Bewijs wordt uitgedrukt in proposities waarvan de waarheid kan worden vastgesteld.

"This propositional conception of evidence fits the discursive nature of philosophy. When philosophers produce evidence, they produce something truth-evaluable.

"Why is it bad for an assertion to be inconsistent with the evidence? A natural answer is: because then it is false. That answer assumes that evidence consists only of true propositions. For if an untrue proposition p is evidence, the proposition that p is untrue is true but inconsistent with the evidence. Using “fact” for “true proposition,” we may say that evidence consists only of facts. That helps explain the point of conforming one’s beliefs to the evidence."(209)

"Although the complete elimination of accidental mistakes and confusions is virtually impossible, we might hope that whether a proposition constitutes evidence is in principle uncontentiously decidable, in the sense that a community of inquirers can always in principle achieve common knowledge as to whether any given proposition constitutes evidence for the inquiry. Call that idea Evidence Neutrality."(210)

"“Intuition” plays a major role in contemporary analytic philosophy’s self-understanding. Yet there is no agreed or even popular account of how intuition works, no accepted explanation of the hoped-for correlation between our having an intuition that P and its being true that P. Since analytic philosophy prides itself on its rigor, this blank space in its foundations looks like a methodological scandal. Why should intuitions have any authority over the philosophical domain?(215)

"Philosophers might be better off not using the word “intuition” and its cognates. Their main current function is not to answer questions about the nature of the evidence on offer but to fudge them, by appearing to provide answers without really doing so. If so, what is really at issue in disputes over the legitimacy of intuitions in philosophy?(220)

[Volgt een lang verhaal over verschillende varianten scepticisme. Blijkbaar zijn er nog steeds een hoop filosofen die in twijfel trekken dat er bergen in Zwitserland staan. Er is in al die jaren nog niets veranderd.]

"Judgment skeptics need not puritanically insist that nobody should ever say things like “There are mountains in Switzerland.” Some of their debunking explanations imply that in everyday contexts those are good, useful things to say: outside the metaphysics seminar, utterances of “There are mountains in Switzerland” have more desirable effects than utterances of “There are no mountains in Switzerland.” Discovering the true theory of metaphysics will not change that. Even revisionary metaphysicians can continue to say such things, just as they can continue to say “The sun will rise at 6 a.m. tomorrow.” But, they hold, those things are not strictly and literally true: the sun will not strictly and literally rise at 6 a.m. tomorrow; there are not strictly and literally any mountains in Switzerland. If we want to think what is really true, we must think with the learned; for many purposes it is enough to say what is to all appearances true, and speak with the vulgar. We can live most of our lives on the basis of a fiction; only when we take a more scientific attitude are we forced to recognize the fiction for what it is. For judgment skeptics, appeals to intuition are nothing more than the last resort of dogmatic conservativism, in its desperate attempt to hold back the forward march of scientific and metaphysical progress. But how can such skeptics prevent their arguments for skepticism from applying as far as the sciences themselves?(223)

(247) 8. Knowledge Maximization

De conclusie:

"Our evidence in philosophy consists of a miscellaneous mass of knowledge, expressed in terms of all kinds, some from ordinary language, some from the theoretical vocabulary of various disciplines. Some of it consists of knowledge about our own mental states; most of it does not. Whatever we know is legitimate evidence. Inevitably, we make mistakes, treating as known what is unknown, or as unknown what is known. The principle of knowledge maximization helps our practice survive our critical reflection, by reassuring us that knowing is a natural state for believers, not an anomalous achievement. In general, our practice makes sense, which of course does not excuse us from meeting particular challenges on their merits. This messy epistemological predicament in which philosophers find themselves is not deeply different from the messy epistemological predicament of all human inquiry."(277)

[Tjonge, en om tot die conclusie te komen heeft hij nu al 277 bladzijden vol geschreven.]

(270) Afterword - Must do better

"The case of the Presocratics shows that one cannot always tell in advance which questions will be fruitful to pursue. Even if a community starts with no remotely adequate idea of how to go about answering a question, it does not follow that the question is meaningless or not worth addressing. That goes for the questions we now classify as philosophical as much as it does for those we now classify as empirical or natural-scientific. The opponents of systematic philosophical theorizing might reply that they are not judging philosophical questions in advance; they are judging them after two and a half millennia of futile attempts to answer them. Of course, it is an important issue how similar our philosophical questions are to those of ancient Greece, or even to those of Enlightenment Europe. Nevertheless, philosophy has been going too long as an intellectual tradition separate from natural science (although sometimes interacting with it) for the question “How much progress has it made?” to be simply dismissed as premature.

"We should not be too pessimistic about the answer, at least concerning the broad, heterogeneous intellectual tradition we conveniently label “analytic philosophy.” In many areas of philosophy, we know much more in 2007 than was known in 1957; much more was known in 1957 than in 1907; much more was known in 1907 than was known in 1857."(279/280)

[Ja, maar de voorbeelden van die vooruitgang komen alleen uit de logica en de analytische taalfilosofie. En dan nog. ]

"We who classify ourselves as “analytic” philosophers tend to fall into the assumption that our allegiance automatically grants us methodological virtue. According to the crude stereotypes, analytic philosophers use arguments while “continental” philosophers do not. But within the analytic tradition many philosophers use arguments only to the extent that most “continental” philosophers do: some kind of inferential movement is observable, but it lacks the clear articulation into premises and conclusion and the explicitness about the form of the inference that much good philosophy achieves. Again according to the stereotypes, analytic philosophers write clearly while “continental” philosophers do not. But much work within the analytic tradition is obscure even when it is written in everyday words, short sentences and a relaxed, open-air spirit, because the structure of its claims is fudged where it really matters."(286)

[Ik denk alleen dat Williamson's eigen boek daar ook onder valt. En dan is het wat vreemd dat hij eindigt met aansporingen tot meer exactheid etc. Zijn aanpak lost niets op en voegt niets toe.]

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